I have written several times on Healthcare, or more specifically Medicare and Medicaid, so my views are pretty well known by any who read my blog. I am opposed to Universal Healthcare. I am also vehemently opposed to the universal healthcare we now have for anyone 65 years old or older which we know as Medicare.
A need for government involvement in insuring medical care for the poor was seen to be necessary in the early 1960’s and so in 1965 Congress *“enacted as Title XVIII and Title XIX of the Social Security Act, extending health coverage to almost all Americans age 65 or over (e.g., those receiving retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board), and providing health care services to low-income children deprived of parental support, their caretaker relatives, the elderly, the blind, and individuals with disabilities."
Seniors were the population group most likely to be living in poverty in 1965; "about one-half had health insurance coverage.”* And with this they made the mistake that will destroy the greatness of the United States by causing the bankruptcy of the Federal Government! Medicare and Medicaid took up 25% of the 2007 federal budget. And eventually as the population ages medical costs will skyrocket even more than their runaway double digit inflation of the past 40 years and totally overwhelm the tax payers. In fact, a large part of the deficits our government runs every year is due to the support our tax payers give ALL seniors and not just those who need it. So the next time you Grandparents visit Johnny and Sally you be sure to thank them nicely because they will be paying when they grow up for the checks you receive in the mail each month now!
Make note of the above quote from Health care Review 2005 which states that Seniors were the population most likely to be living in poverty (today it is children 18 and under); "about one half had health insurance coverage". If this was the case and one-half of seniors had medical insurance then why did Congress feel it necessary to make health care FREE to ALL seniors? It made no sense to me then, and it makes less sense to me now. Medicare should NEVER have been enacted.
Medicaid on the other hand was the program that should have adequately covered the health care needs of the All of the poor children, elderly and disabled needy. And instead of directly paying medical bills for these people and therefore getting into the insurance business, the government should have merely provided the funds for them to purchase health care insurance. Competition among insurance companies would have kept health care insurance premiums reasonable. And at the same time the insurance companies would have watched over the medical care providers and kept those costs down also. We would not have had 40 years of double digit inflationary costs of medical supplies and service. We wouldn’t have had this horrendous burden on our young workers that we now have and which will grow more burdensome in the future.
Can Congress back up now after 40 years and do what they should have done in the first place. No, they can notwithout taking some hard stands against Entitlements! Both health care systems are entrenched ENTITLEMENTS, this is especially true of Medicare. Seniors feel the government owes them a free ride. And since our children are our future their needs MUST be provided for. And there is a third and perhaps most important reason that the largess of the federal government can not be rescinded, and that is the totally unreasonable and overwhelming costs of all aspects of healthcare that was allowed to spiral out of control after the government got into the medical care payer business. At this point only the affluent can afford their own medical insurance premiums. The middle class can not. The middle class must rely on their employers to subsidize their health care costs. Employers must pass these costs onto the public. And the Beat goes on!
So what can be done to “fix” the system now. If you will read the time line offered by the article below you will see that the curbs tried have all been made towards those who are least likely to protest: Medicaid (the poor, disabled and children). We currently have the highest infant mortality rate of the industrialized world BECAUSE Medicaid has been cut back so that poor pregnant women can not get prenatal care. It is a fact that prenatal care prevents most infant mortality and other devastating problems for infants and mothers. But these groups of Medicaid recipients do not have powerful lobbies like AARP working for them so their services can be safely cut by our lily livered Congressmen who will not stand up for the needs of the people but pander to those with the biggest donation to their campaign funds.
We currently have 40 million people who have no health coverage at all. They are unable to afford the stupendously expensive insurance costs and yet are to well off to qualify for Medicaid. It stands to reason then that Congress must do what it should have done in the first place and insure medical care for ONLY the poor elderly and remove the affluent elderly from the government Medicare roles. President Bush has made some recommendations in his 2008 budget to do just that. It isn’t seen as having a chance of being enacted, but it is probably a step towards the only possible recourse that Congress has if it is to put a halt to healthcare inflation and take care of those who need our compassion. To make more cuts to Medicaid will only swell the numbers of those who have no medical coverage at all.
I have made the undeniable assertion that Medicare should be means-tested and one comment I received from a reader is the rallying cry whenever any mention of this has been made, he said, “ There is no perfect solution for Medicare. Means-testing Medicare beneficiaries punishes those that saved best for retirement and worked hardest.” I will explore this argument later in the week.
* Health care Financing Review Winter 2005 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0795/is_2_27/ai_n16108607 A time line and review of Medicare and Medicaid from 1965 to 2005